For citizens who want to advocate for political change at the local level, the First Amendment right to neighborhood canvassing is crucial.
The Supreme Court has long afforded the highest level of constitutional protection to those who walk door-to-door for the purpose of speaking with willing and interested residents about political ideas. But in Wixom, the city council enacted an ordinance that allows entire neighborhoods to erect signs prohibiting door-to-door political canvassing, such as asking residents whether they are registered to vote.
One local political activist was canvassing in support of Democratic candidates a few weeks before the November 2018 midterm elections when a resident threatened to call the police if he did not immediately leave the neighborhood. Attempts to persuade the city to repeal their ordinance were unsuccessful, so in April 2019 the ACLU of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit against the city and neighborhood association. After we filed a motion for preliminary injunction, Wixom’s city council repealed the ordinance and the neighborhood association removed its anti-canvassing signs. The case settled in September 2019.
(Action for Liberation v. City of Wixom; ACLU Attorneys Bonsitu Kitaba-Gaviglio and Michael J. Steinberg; Cooperating Attorneys Heather Cummings and Sheila Cummings.)